More than 80 percent of Democrats say they believe Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) should be stripped of his powerful chairmanship in the Senate if he ends up supporting a Republican filibuster of health care reform, according to a new poll.
The liberal action groups Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America commissioned a survey several days ago, in which they asked more than 800 voters whether Lieberman's position on health care should affect his status as head of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Eighty-one percent of Democrats said they would like to see the senator's chairmanship -- which he was allowed to keep despite campaigning for Sen. John McCain in 2008 -- taken away should he sustain a filibuster. Only 10 percent of Democrats said there should be no punishment. Even fewer (nine percent) said they had yet to make up their minds, underscoring just how divisive Lieberman is within the party.
An additional 43 percent of independents agreed that Lieberman should lose his post, with 30 percent saying no. Only ten percent of Republicans, meanwhile, thought Lieberman should be punished under such a scenario -- while 66 percent said he should not.
All told, 47 percent of the public said Senate leaders should remove Lieberman from his chairmanship if he joins the Republican filibuster; 32 percent said they should allow him to keep the post; 21 percent said they weren't sure.
Lieberman, on Sunday, informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he would, in fact, be filibustering health care reform in its current incarnation. But leadership aides have remained mum about what kind of punishment such a vote would provoke.
It is entirely possible that a heated internal drama will play out within the Democratic caucus should the Connecticut independent prove to be the one-vote obstacle to getting legislation passed. The polling numbers certainly show where the heart of the party lies.